The Floating World (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

This haunting novel tackles the subject of Katrina head on, focusing in on one family and the challenges they face in the storm’s wake. There is Cora, the older of the Boisdore sisters, who refused to leave and is so traumatized she can barely piece together what she saw. Then there is Del, who is hesitant to leave the safe bubble of New York City to face the tragedy. Their parents, Joe and Tess, find their marriage in shambles, and they are unable to pick up the pieces. Babst is a New Orleans native, and her love for the city shines through in her poetic descriptions of the damage and the characters’ nostalgic longings for a home that will never be the same again. Her characters, while facing personal tragedies, also come face to face with the political and racial implications of the way the storm and subsequent evacuation were handled by the city. This is a terrific multigenerational family novel, and also an important historical document. 
— From Margaret's Picks


"Set in New Orleans, this important and powerful novel follows the Boisdor family . . . in the months after Katrina. A profound, moving and authentically detailed picture of the storm's emotional impact on those who lived through it." --People

In this dazzling debut about family, home, and grief, C. Morgan Babst takes readers into the heart of Hurricane Katrina and the life of a great city.

As the storm is fast approaching the Louisiana coast, Cora Boisdor refuses to leave the city. Her parents, Joe Boisdor , an artist descended from freed slaves who became the city's preeminent furniture makers, and his white "Uptown" wife, Dr. Tess Eshleman, are forced to evacuate without her, setting off a chain of events that leaves their marriage in shambles and Cora catatonic--the victim or perpetrator of some violence mysterious even to herself.

This mystery is at the center of Babst's haunting and profound novel. Cora's sister, Del, returns to New Orleans from the successful life she built in New York City to find her hometown in ruins and her family deeply alienated from one another. As Del attempts to figure out what happened to her sister, she must also reckon with the racial history of the city and the trauma of a disaster that was not, in fact, some random act of God but an avoidable tragedy visited on New Orleans's most vulnerable citizens. Separately and together, each member of the Boisdor clan must find the strength to remake home in a city forever changed.

The Floating World is the Katrina story that needed to be told--one with a piercing, unforgettable loveliness and a vivid, intimate understanding of this particular place and its tangled past.

About the Author

C. Morgan Babst studied writing at NOCCA, Yale, and NYU. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in such journals as the Oxford American, Guernica, the Harvard Review, LitHub, and the New Orleans Review, and her piece "Death Is a Way to Be" was honored as a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2016. She evacuated New Orleans one day before Hurricane Katrina made landfall. After eleven years in New York, she now lives in New Orleans with her husband and child.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781616205287
ISBN-10: 1616205288
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: October 17th, 2017
Pages: 384
Language: English